22 days of devotions
by joe bruce
Ephesians 4:31,32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor, and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Forgive. It doesn’t take long in the story of mankind for us to commit sin, wrong, disobey, bring harm to innocence. The Bible is divided into two sections according to covenants. The old covenant and the new covenant. Both covenants are based on God making a way to restore a relationship with Him. The New Covenant, with the death of Jesus, the Word become flesh, showed mankind to what extreme He would go to show His desire to forgive us. Part of His final statement on the cross was “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There are many examples in scripture to refer to in an attempt to understand this topic. The gospels tell stories like the woman caught in the act of adultery and Jesus won her pardon by simply writing the sand. Great story with a tremendous message but we have no back story to explore the character of those involved.
A story of forgiveness with lots of context is that of Jacob and Esau. Genesis 33 shows us a snapshot of forgiveness, but the backstory is what makes ch.33 rich. Often Esau gets painted as a big outdoorsman who lost his primary birthright inheritance because a bowl of beans smelled good. Even though Esau was really foolish when it came to financial planning in his youth, he had an honest bone to pick with his younger, scrawny twin brother. His whole life was one of Jacob and their mother Rebekah plotting against him. Esau had mommy issues to earn him a spot psychiatrist’s couch for sure. Little brother and mom had also manipulated his father in his old age and basically ran off in the dark of night with Esau’s birthright and firstborn blessing. It had been years since they had spoken but Jacob knew that he had to deal with his past. The backstory explains why Jacob split up his family and assets as they approached Esau and sent offerings ahead as well. (This is all explained in ch.32)
Chapter 33 verses 4-9 are such a beautiful picture of what forgiveness looks like. Betrayal within the family can be the hardest but here it is, happening. What Jacob does is not the topic, I only want to look at Esau. In short: first Esau owned his part. He was foolish. His values were poorly defined. As firstborn, culturally he knew his role and was lax in guarding that gift. Secondly, he still got a blessing. Evidently, he ran with what he had. Third, a guy only gets one twin. There was a unique void that he needed to fill. Fourth, Esau ran to restore the relationship. Fifth, he showed his maturity by telling his brother he didn’t want his stuff. He wanted fellowship. That is where backstory helps us see what forgiveness looks like.
If you’re alive and breathing you are going to deal with forgiveness, seeking it, or giving it. There are things with our walk as Christians that we can stub our toe on and still find joy. Forgiveness is not it. Today, deal with forgiveness. As you were forgiven so forgive others.